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Humidity management in safe, or "Ugh!!!"

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by RangerEric, Nov 10, 2009.

  1. RangerEric

    RangerEric Southern Oregon, United States Active Member

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    Hi all. Want to probe everyone's opinions on how to best manage the humidity level and rust issues in my gun safe.

    Quick back story, just for rant's sake if nothing else cause I'm super frustrated with my situation. Was being a bad boy and keeping all my guns piled in my closet waiting to get stolen for several years. A couple months back, got a great deal on a nice Sentry gun safe. However, I was still living in my apartment at the time, and knew I'd be getting married and moving to a new house soon, and it was heavy as crap, so didn't want to deal with lugging it into my apartment just to move it again two months later, so it sat in my dad's barn for a bit. Fast forward, married now, in the new house, finally being a good boy and keeping my guns all locked up where they should be, and seriously within a week, everything went to crap. Surface rust on a Savage .22, Mossberg 500, SKS, Chinese SxS, a pellet gun, and my PPK. Basically everything but my Glocks, which I love for a whole new reason now. Lots of rust and very minor pitting on an otherwise pristine Winchester 94. (I'm telling myself that one's just "patina".) But then - egads. Great big streak of rust and pitting and kick in the junk along the left side of the slide of my Kimber Tactical Pro. My freakin' crown jewel, favorite gun ever, firearm love of my life looks like crap now.

    Back in the days when my guns lived in my closet, I would clean them after a shooting session, but would never take any great care to keep them oiled down at all times, and never ever developed a spot of rust, even after carrying them in IWB leather holsters. Now, just a few days in my safe has made my collection look like I stored them in a mud puddle.

    Upon this discovery, I immediately wiped everything down with a heavy dose of Hoppe's lubricating oil, and especially drenched the pitting on my beloved Kimber. Let it sit for a few days, more surface rust. So, I bought a Goldenrod dehumidifier and some Remington brand "rust inhibitor" wipes, wiped everything down again. Rust seems less prolific, but is still forming on my Winchester and my Mossberg. Fortunately, my Kimber seems to be safe so long as I continue to wipe it down like twice a day. Obviously, this is not a sustainable situation, and generally no bueno.

    Is this just a fact of life with safes?? Does everyone go through this? Am I doing something wrong? I've read about the silica dessicant some people use, and maybe I need to use that as well?? On a whim that I don't particularly expect to do anything, I just now put a bowl of rice in the safe, thinking it might suck up some moisture that was somehow "trapped" in the safe? Does it normally take a few days for Goldenrods to get the safe up to temp and do any good?

    I'm totally distraught about my Kimber. I've had it like six months, carried it all the time, carried it in the rain, carried it in the mountains, carried it at the freakin' beach, and never had this problem before. After a day of carrying it now those pitted spots are the color of a tin can from the bottom of the ocean. I talked to Kimber already, wondering if maybe the finish was somehow flawed to have rusted so quickly and so badly out of nowhere, and they basically said I was dumb, and that Kimbers can only be expected to survive in hermetically sealed underground chambers submersed in WD-40. No, they didn't say that, but they said it was all my own fault, need to store differently, need to keep covered in oil, need to basically never touch it or carry it or shoot it. Finish damage "not covered under warranty", $50 to refinish it, but I'm hesitant to do that until I figure out how to make my safe a happy place for my flock, so it isn't ruined again three days after getting it back.

    For those of you waiting for the cliff notes, the preceding post can be summarized as "Ugh!!! Help!!!" Any instructions/advice/condolences are greatly appreciated. Gonna go cry over my poor rusted Kimber now.
     
  2. jordanka16

    jordanka16 Albany, OR Active Member

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    just my $.02, this sounds like a safe issue, maybe that's why you got such a good deal? It could have some moisture in it somewhere, you could try getting one of those portable dehumidifiers and run it in there for a few days and try and draw any excess moisture out.

    Oh, and sorry about your kimber, that's a real bummer:(
     
  3. RangerEric

    RangerEric Southern Oregon, United States Active Member

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    Do safes do that? Like in the lining or something? Maybe if I stripped all the lining out that would make a difference..?
     
  4. jordanka16

    jordanka16 Albany, OR Active Member

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    Did you buy the safe new, or used? If it was used the previous owner could have spilled some water in it or left it open.
     
  5. RangerEric

    RangerEric Southern Oregon, United States Active Member

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    It was bought used, yeah. It's in my walk in closet, maybe I'll try pulling the lining, and leave the door open and seal it in the closet with a space heater, see if that dries anything out....
     
  6. FatherHolyHoly

    FatherHolyHoly MN Active Member

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    My friend also had one of these sentry safes and always kept a dehumidifier in it. I'm not sure of the model (I can ask if you'd like) but, a great feature was that it was reusable. You just plug it into a wall socket and it drys back out. Ready for the next use.
     
  7. shibbershabber

    shibbershabber Vancouver Well-Known Member

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    I would guess that it the source of the moisture.




    Before I got the safe, I kept my guns in this: http://www.northwestfirearms.com/forum/showthread.php?t=17327
    Which was in my partially insulated garage, I never had any issues.

    Once I got the safe it sat in my house which is usually kept a moderate temperature and is dry. I never had any signs of rust whatsoever.


    Maybe while in the barn it built up moisture which was absorbed int the lining, not that its inside and warm its causing trouble, does the inside smell at all? Does the lining feel damp?
     
  8. BooKilla

    BooKilla Portland, OR Member

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    It was the barn. By buddy had the same problem except in his garage. Left tons of guns in his safe in the garage and over time he noticed rust was forming on some of them. If you live in the PNW, there is nothing you can do about the moisture in the air. I have my safe upstairs in my office, in my house. I have never used a dehumidifier in it before, but I've never had too. Oh yeah, and there are a couple of kimbers in there as well.
     
  9. unionguy

    unionguy Portland Active Member

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    Yes, dry it out. Then, keep the goldenrod and some portable dehumidifiers (the kind you dry out with a wall socket) in there. You should be fine from there.
     
  10. leftym4

    leftym4 Milwaukie New Member

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    did you put a wet rifle in there? always let you rifles air dry then oil before putting it in the safe with other rifles if it has water on it and it evaporates in a sealed safe where do you think it goes ?

    somewhere it got moisture as noted maybe from being stored in a barn the insulation got wet

    keep the safe in a dry area not near the bathroom shower or window

    you can always pack the rifles in silicone sack ups this will help protect them and then there is always dehumidifiers ect.
     
  11. MarkSBG

    MarkSBG Beaverton Oregon Well-Known Member

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    MAN, THAT SUCKS! My condolences. I would be royally on fire too...

    The fireproofing material in the safe is multiple layers of gypsum board. Gypsum is often used as a desicant because it is good at pulling moisture out of the air. This means that it is also really good at storing that moisture and letting it out slowly over time.

    I would suggest emptying the safe and leaving the door open with a small space heater inside. You really want the door open to give the moisture a place to go after it is heated up and evaporates. I would do this over a month long period or so just to be sure I got all of the moisture out. Maybe close the heater vent in the room with the safe and use the space heater to heat the room for the next 30 days.

    Just my .02
     
  12. buick455

    buick455 se portland Member

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    I agree with MARKSBG the fire proof material can take a long time to dry out a heater should work. also silica gel, kitty litter, floor(grease) sweep from napa auto, or dry news paper will pull moister from the air.
     
  13. Oro

    Oro Western WA Active Member

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    Yep. A few years here now and I have found rust on waxed and well-oiled guns not handled in as little as a month or two. One even inside a silicone lined Bore-Store! You may have some moisture in that safe's lining - get it out and dry it. We have a horse trailer and the indoor/outdoor carpeting makes the tack area wet almost year round except high summer. If it has a lining like that and it is damp or has water under it, that's just keeping the thing humid all the time.

    I have given up on most waxes and oils and in this climate and am trying M Pro 7 CLR (like BreakFree CLR, try either or a similar thing) and it appears to be doing vastly better protecting them. I am next getting some vapor bags or Bore-stores and after soaking the gun in CLR, putting it in one and then putting four/five handguns each in a .50 ammo can with a lot of desiccant and sealing it. Some guns I do not shot often or much at all so this storage would be fine.
     
  14. RangerEric

    RangerEric Southern Oregon, United States Active Member

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    Everybody, thanks for all the information. It sounds like the consensus was the safe's time in the barn is the culprit here. The situation as of now, safe emptied, goldenrod still turned on, space heater sitting just outside of safe, a bag of "Dry-Z-Air" from Bi-mart in there right now, (plus my bowl of rice still, for good measure or maybe just good luck), and a rechargeable dehumidifier on order from Cabelas. Currently my closet has about the feel of a sauna, and my glasses fog up every time I walk in there, so there's definitely some moisture being released. I guess my non-scientific test for now will be to say when my glasses don't fog up anymore, things are better? I need to get a humidity meter to better test. However, I can already see that there's a bit of "dew" sort of collecting at the bottom of the "Dry-Z-Air" dish, so I think it's doing some good. Anything else I should be doing at this point? Closet door open or closed, would you guys think? Better to create a hotter area around safe or just to heat up closet and to some degree whole rest of room with door open allowing moisture to escape better?
     
  15. jordanka16

    jordanka16 Albany, OR Active Member

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    I say keep everything open and let the heater do it's thing, then seal the safe up with the dehumidifier in it to get the rest of the moisture out.
     
  16. elsie

    elsie Way over there on the left Well-Known Member

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    You might want to look at getting a humidity sensor as well. You can probably get an Oregon Scientific basic temperature/humidity sensor for less than $50.

    elsie
     
  17. OFADAN

    OFADAN Brownsville, OR Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like you've got it under control! Mark mentione the gypsium...do you know exactly what is used for insulation on your safe?
     
  18. bwells

    bwells Longview Member

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    Probably not the best in the world, but quite a bit cheaper if all you need is humidity:

    http://www.jrcigars.com/index.cfm?page=itemDetails&ItemCode=3HY106
     
  19. ricsha

    ricsha Oregon Coast - Lincoln City Member

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    Wow! What a bummer. I stored a bunch of guns for more than a year in a non-heated storage garage, inside a metal gun locker (not a safe) while I was overseas, and had nary a problem. Now that I live within a mile of the beach on the Oregon Coast, where it is know to be humid, as will as salty, I have the gun locker bolted in a closet where the humidity is the same as the rest of the house. I have never worried about it, until reading your post. This is an eye-opener for me, and I am going to be paying far closer attention from now on. Thanks for this thread, which may save me all kinds of grief.
     
  20. Natty Bumpo

    Natty Bumpo Clackamas County Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Heartbreaking, isn't it? Believe me, I know the feeling all too well from having lived in some very primitive conditions.

    Yes, dry it out with a space heater with the door cracked open a bit. You want to get it hot in there but also allow for water vapor to escape into the room. As long as the room it is in is dry it will eventually dry out, even without the heater. The heater just speeds things up. The rice, etc. won't do much in terms of speeding things up. It won't get damper, only drier. The sheetrock insulation in the safe between the steel walls is moist... is my guess. From sitting around in a too-moist environment for way too long. Being somewhat trapped as the moisture is, it may take some time. And it will continue releasing water vapor until it is dry. Once it is dry, it ain't getting wet again in a heated home.

    You need a way to determine when the safe is dry enough to trust. Get two cheap hygrometers. $15 or so. You don't need scientific precision, just a general idea if the humidity inside (with door shut). You can keep one hygrometer in there for life after the safe is dried out for purposes of perpetual monitoring the RH conditions inside the safe. Get another identical hygrometer for the room the safe is in.

    http://www.woodcraft.com/Family/2001191/2001191.aspx

    First, put both in the same room for a day to calibrate each to the other.. Then put one in the safe and one in the room outside the safe. Compare the readings. They should be the same when the safe is finally dry. If the inside of the safe reads higher (with door closed), then the safe needs to be dried out some more, so stick with the drying program until it is dry.

    At this time of year in a heated home, your indoor humidity should not exceed 60% RH....probably less. Depends on a lot of environmental factors, but mostly how warm you heat the house and how tight the house is, etc.

    For interim storage of the guns, consider either bore-stores or blue-bags. I wouldn't put the guns in the safe until you get a handle on the problem. Hide them, take them to a friend's safe or make other arrangements.

    No oil in the world will prevent rust in a perpetual too-humid environment with poor air circulation. Rust never sleeps. So don't depend on oil or wax. That is why there is cosmoline. I use the bore-store socks Inside the safe, so buying a few of these won't be a waste once you get things finally dried out.